Ep 47: Sex Positive Education for Teens
Gia Lynne, author of On Blossoming, thinks the current model of sex education does more harm than good. In this episode, she reveals how to adopt a “pleasure-focused”, or “sex positive education”, approach instead. Use these tips to set your teen up for sexual success.
Full Show Notes
For most parents, the main goal with sex education is to keep teens from having sex for as long as possible and make sure that, when they do have sex, they always use protection. These are definitely good goals, but they leave a lot to be desired. That’s why a new movement is focusing on “sex positive education”, with the goal of setting teens up to have a positive, fulfilling, and empowering sex life.
How do you adopt sex positive education with your own teenager?
Gia Lynne says the answer has to do with shifting our focus from teaching a results-oriented mindset to a pleasure-oriented mindset. Gia is the author of the new book On Blossoming: Frank and Practical Advice on Our Bodies, Sexual Health, Sensuality, Orgasm, and More. On this week’s episode of the podcast, I spoke with Gia about how sex positive education works and what parents can do to start using it in their own homes.
The first thing to understand, Gia told me, is that sexuality and sensuality are not the same thing.
Sensuality is about using our senses to experience the world in a rich and pleasurable way. Sexuality, on the other hand, is related to intercourse and sexual attractiveness.
Here’s another way of thinking about sex positive education. Sexuality focuses on the end result (having an orgasm or producing a baby), while sensuality focuses on enjoying everything fully in the moment as it occurs. Gia refers to this as having a “results-focused orientation” versus a “pleasure-focused orientation”.
Teenagers who are results focused are more likely to rush into sexual intercourse, while those with a pleasure focus are more likely to slow things down and savor the sensual pleasure derived from experiences like holding hands, snuggling, and kissing.
How can you teach this attitude to your own teenager?
Gia told me it is about more than just sex. Sex positive education is about teaching teens to slow down and savor all of life’s little pleasures rather than rushing through to get to the “good stuff”.
She gave me some great tips for how to pass this mentality along to your teenager. For one thing, it starts with modeling. Let your teenager see you pause for a minute to savor an amazing cup of coffee or stop to watch the sunset. Show them that there is so much joy in life’s simple pleasures.
Another component of sex positive education is training our teenagers to ask for what they want and to stand up for themselves when they don’t want to do something. During our interview, Gia revealed some great strategies parents can use to start teaching these skills to teens.
We also talked about some other important topics in sex positive education, like masturbation, ‘losing” your virginity, using the right words when you talk about sex organs and acts, and a whole lot more.
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Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen
1. If your teen is worried or curious about masturbation:
“There is nothing wrong with masturbation. In fact, I think it’s especially important for a young person because you haven’t had as much time in your body and you don’t know what you are capable of feeling. Before you get into situations with another person it’s important to know your own body well.”
2. When your teenager is worried about what it will mean when they lose their virginity:
Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview
1. Learn the Right Words for Sex Organs and Acts (and Use Them Frequently):
Gia is an expert on pleasure-focused education and during our interview she stressed the importance of using the right words to discuss sex acts and body parts with your teenager. This serves two purposes. First, by showing your teen that you aren’t afraid to use words like “vulva”, “clittoris”, and “handjob”, you subtly communicate that it’s OK for them to talk openly with you about these things. Second, your teen may not know all of the specific words for these things. By using them yourself, you can make sure your teen knows what the words are. This way they will be prepared to talk about this stuff with their future sexual partners. Take a moment to take a quiz on sexual anatomy and see how you score!
2. Teach a Pleasure-Oriented Mindset to Your Teenager:
About Gia Lynne
A pleasure-positive writer, educator, and personal coach, Gia Lynne is dedicated to researching and teaching the craft of pleasurable living and healthy sexuality. Having been raised by an intentional community that offers courses on relationships and communication, she offers a unique perspective on pleasurable living, human sexuality and their connection to our quality of life. She realized that while many people wish they had been raised with better sex ed, she actually had that experience. She has a degree in English Literature from UC Berkeley and is pursuing a master’s degree in Sexuality Studies.